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Apple, Dropbox join Digital Due Process anti-snooping group

updated 10:35 pm EDT, Thu September 22, 2011

Apple backs DDP calls for warrant-based searching

Apple and Dropbox took rare political stances Thursday by joining Digital Due Process. The coalition, which includes technology firms like Comcast and eBay as well as the American Civil Liberties Union and Electronic Frontier Foundation, is primarily interested in toughening laws barring law enforcement from snooping on computers and mobile devices without a warrant. Recent campaigns have focused on modernizing the ECPA (Electronic Communications Privacy Act), a 1986 bill that doesn't account for many modern Internet components.

Among the gaps are e-mail and messaging, where the need for a warrant can hinge on whether or not the text has been read. Search isn't covered in any form. Location, a sore point for smartphone OS designers like Apple, has also been a subject of contention with investigators sometimes using dubious grounds to get access to a phone's tracked position.

The gesture has seen the EFF give symbolic awards to Apple and Dropbox for the first time in trying to advocate for privacy in Congress, joining Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and others. Both are ranked relatively low but also haven't usually been challenged in the other categories, such as telling users what data the government wants or facing a trial where privacy is a central issue.

Apple has been attacked for location policy ever since an older version of iOS 4 was found to be collecting much more location data than it needed, albeit anonymously. Since patching the issue, it has been more active in privacy, curbing how much it collects. DDP may be an indication that Apple wants to now reassure iOS and Mac owners that any data won't be intercepted without a proper legal path.

Dropbox, as a cloud storage service, is likely keen to minimize fears that personal files synced to the cloud could be intercepted by government officials without a warrant. [via EFF]

By Electronista Staff


  1. Inkling

    Senior User

    Joined: Jul 2006


    Encrypted email

    I'd be more impressed if Apple and its industry counterparts simply added open key encryption to their email apps. It could be automated. After one email exchange, both parties would be exchanging encrypted email with no effort on their part. Emailing on the go would become a lot safer.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001


    Re: Encrypted email

    Yeah, because no one else has thought of that.

    The problem is getting EVERYONE on board, setting up an industry standard on how the hand-offs should work, keeping all your keys protected but making all your keys available to various platforms (for example, if you use .Mac mail, you'd need the key you use with your email to Fred to be on your Mac, but also on MobileMe. And if you mail with thunderbird on a PC, you'll need it there. And on your iPhone or Android device.

    And all of this ignores the fact that no one will trust it anyway, because once you've got all those groups making a standard, the conspiracy nuts will assume that the NSA and CIA has put in back-doors so they can read any communication.

    A simpler and easier start would be to force all SMTP servers to use SSL to talk to the receiving mail server, thus keeping your mail traffic encrypted point to point (right now, all you know is that you can encrypt your email over SSL from your computer to the SMTP server. But after that, it's all open down the line).

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